INA applied to have the Biorefinery project granted the status of a strategic investment project for the Republic of Croatia
Despite the challenging business environment, INA continues to pursue the strategic INA Downstream 2023 New Course project and the transformation of the Sisak site into an industrial centre.
Despite the challenging business environment, INA continues to pursue the strategic INA Downstream 2023 New Course project and the transformation of the Sisak site into an industrial centre. One of the activities at the site is the development of the Biorefinery project, thanks to which the company will be producing advanced bioethanol from biomass, as well as green energy. It was for this project that an application was submitted to the Ministry of the Economy and Entrepreneurship in June for the status of a strategic investment project for the Republic of Croatia. It is an investment worth around EUR 250m, and the plan is to secure a part of that from the European Union’s Innovation Fund.
As the first step in the construction of a advanced bioethanol production plant with a negative CO2 footprint at the Sisak refinery site, in February this year INA signed a license agreement with the French group AXENS for the FuturolTM technology, as well as a base design contract. Also, at the end of last year, a contract was signed with the Belgian company De Smet Engineers & Contractors for the basic engineering design (BED) for auxiliary facilities and the integration of the existing refinery infrastructure.
Regarding the development of the Biorefinery project, we have so far had two harvests of miscanthus, which INA planted at a demonstration field in Rugvica near Zagreb, in cooperation with the Bc Institute. The biomass collected from the first harvest was sent for testing as part of the EU project GRACE (GRowing Advanced Industrial Crops on marginal lands for biorEfineries), and the results confirmed miscanthus to be a good raw material for the production of advanced bioethanol. The second harvest of miscanthus on the demonstration farm in Rugvica, during which INA tested agricultural machinery of renowned EU manufacturers, was completed in March this year.
“The development of the Biorefinery project is in line with the company’s development guidelines and a testament to our commitment to the New Course programme. The Sisak site is an important part of INA’s business and all the activities we are undertaking are the prerequisites that need to be met in order for a final investment decision to be made. It is also important to note that the support of the EU and the Government of the Republic of Croatia are key preconditions for the final implementation of this project, which is important to the Republic of Croatia and INA, and whose elements fit into the Green Deal and the European energy strategy,” said Sándor Fasimon, President of the Management Board of INA.
To establish a raw materials supply chain, investments in agriculture are estimated at EUR 50 million. For this purpose, the company plans to apply for rural development funds, primarily for activities relating to the establishment of plantations of the energy plant miscanthus, which would include the utilization of abandoned agricultural land. It needs to be pointed out that the energy contribution of the produced advanced bioethanol is double counted when it comes to meeting goals concerning the placement of biofuels on the market.
Let us remind you that the INA Downstream 2023 New Course programme includes plans to concentrate oil refining in the Republic of Croatia at Rijeka Refinery and transform the Sisak site into an industrial centre. In addition to the biorefinery, other alternative businesses for the Sisak site include the production of bitumen, the start of which is planned in the first half of 2021, followed by the production of lubricants, for which the master design is currently being developed to be used as basis for assessing the cost-effectiveness of the project. In addition, there are plans to develop a logistics hub at the site, for which a proposal for the approval of the construction budget has been prepared, and a building permit for a solar power plant is being obtained. On the other hand, Rijeka Refinery is preparing the ground for the construction of the residue upgrade unit worth around HRK 4bn. Also, at the beginning of June, Rijeka Refinery started a test run of the propane-propylene splitter unit worth HRK 550m, which will be producing a high-value product for the petrochemical industry, with first volumes expected by the end of the month.